Students Gain Valuable Experience Designing Boyden Gallery Exhibit

The energized atmosphere bursting throughout the Boyden Art Gallery was palpable on Wednesday, Jan. 27. At 5:00 p.m., the Gallery hosted the opening night of “What Lies Beneath?: A Student-Designed Exhibition.”

“What Lies Beneath?” came out of the class Curatorial Studies Practicum, taught by Professor Cristin Cash. Mary Braun, the gallery director and collections manager, along with Erica Maust, assisted the students throughout the class and exhibition. The student design exhibition takes place in the Boyden Gallery, located in Montgomery Hall of St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Each student from the curatorial class chose three pieces of artwork from the College’s collection, and then selected a perspective that they wished to research further based on their chosen pieces. The exhibition consists of ten sub-exhibits that each focus on a perspective of artwork, ranging from provenance to medium/materials to belonging.

Two years ago, Cash had the idea of students learning and participating in the curatorial process of art museums. That class assisted with the research and development of the exhibition, but did not follow it through to the end. According to Cash this was the “first time the class followed through with the exhibition,” which made it very rewarding for her because she was able to watch her students learn.

Cash was amazed at how everyone started with the same instructions, but by the end “each exhibit has its own voice.”  Around 5:30, senior Shauna Southerland, a student in the curatorial class, introduced the idea and concept of “What Lies Beneath?: A Student-Designed Exhibition.”

She said that the concept started with “words on a chalkboard” then grew into ideas, which were changed and modified relentlessly and meticulously.

Southerland and the nine other students “wanted to include transparency and how art can be viewed” into their exhibition. That gave shape to the meaning of this exhibition being an art show about how an art show is produced.

The exhibition helps non-artists and curators understand the processes that go into an art museum while also displaying the end product. Sophomore Anna Danz, another student part of the exhibition, said, “People from across the departments all seemed to understand and enjoy the artwork, which was one of our goals from the very beginning of the class.”

The exhibition offered an opportunity for the community to take part in the show, through a Viewer’s Choice mini exhibition. The Viewer’s Choice gives the audience the chance to complete the show by picking the final two pieces of artwork and a perspective they want researched based on the artworks. The exhibition also offered a scavenger hunt. The Viewer’s Choice and the scavenger hunt winner will both be revealed on Wednesday, Feb. 17 2010 at 5:00 p.m.

More information on “What Lies Beneath?: A Student-Designed Exhibition” can be found on their blogspot, http://whatliesbeneathsmcm.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook.

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